In 1953 Stanley Miller used an apparatus like this one to simulate the chemical conditions on Earth before life evolved.
Miller's experiments produced amino acids, complex oily hydrocarbons, and other organic molecules - the building blocks of life. A graduate student at the time, Miller went down in history for
being the first to show that these essential molecules could have been generated on a lifeless Earth.
Stanley Miller passed away in 2007, leaving the contents of his office and lab to a former student.
Here, vials containing samples from the 50-year-old experiments were found and later reassessed using modern techniques.
It turns out that Miller's experiments were even more successful than anyone had imagined. Vials from his volcanic experiments contained a rich mixture of amino acids, including some that have never been found in simulated early Earth experiments before. The New Scientist has the details.
Link to the article: Volcanic lightning may have sparked life on Earth at The New Scientist
The Miller Urey Experiment